What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that has been used in the past to develop materials that are resistant to corrosion, heat or electrical current. This made the substance a great building material, and it was commonly used between 1930 – 1980, but potentially within any building pre-2000. New usage and sales of certain types of Asbestos were banned in the UK in 1985, with a complete ban coming into force in 1999.
What is the health risk?
There are different types of Asbestos that have varying degrees of danger if disturbed. The risk to humans is within our inhalation system. When airborne Asbestos fibres are inhaled, they can become lodged into the soft tissue in our lungs. Due to the natural chemical resistance of Asbestos, our bodies cannot break down the material, and this is where health conditions such as cancer tumours can develop. Exposure to disturbed asbestos fibres can develop conditions such as Asbestosis or Mesothelioma which are types of lung cancers, and are life-threatening diseases. Whilst there is no defined safe exposure limit to Asbestos, most people who suffer with Asbestos related health conditions have a history of working with the substance over a prolonged period of time.
Asbestos in the home
It is common for Asbestos to be found in properties built before the year 2000. Common uses include; wall insulation, pipe insulation, ceiling coverings, floor tiles, roofing material and general insulation materials. However, it is unlikely to find raw Asbestos in use within a home, it is more likely to be well bound within other materials such as cement, vinyl and bitumen. These sort of materials lock in the fibres, and left un-disturbed, present no risk to human health.
Working with Asbestos
It is important that any works within your home are managed appropriately to prevent disturbance of Asbestos materials. Should Asbestos be present in your home and require repair or removal, then strict controls will be put in place and communicated with you to ensure your family’s safety.
Note: if left untouched, Asbestos which is in good condition causes no risk to health. It is only if the substance is broken up that then releases the fibres which can be inhaled. There is no requirement to remove Asbestos materials which remain in good condition.
Further information on Asbestos can be found on the HSE website:Where can you find asbestos?